Why do Republicans defend Jack Ryan?

Politics and policy.
June 23 2004 8:05 PM

The Republican Sex Club

Why does the GOP defend Jack Ryan?

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5. The woman's discomfort is no big deal. "She says three times over eight years [of marriage], we went to places that she felt uncomfortable," Jack Ryan said Tuesday. "That's the worst of it. I think almost any spouse would take that as, 'Gosh, if that's the worst someone can say about me after seeing me live my life for eight years ... ' then people say, 'Gosh, the guy's lived a pretty clean life.' " In another interview, Ryan said, "What's in those documents at its worst is that I propositioned my wife in an inappropriate place."

What are Republicans saying about Ryan's spin? They're parroting it and hoping the revelations will blow over. Sen. George Allen, R-Va., chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told reporters: "We fully support Jack Ryan. Jack Ryan has the ability to forcefully articulate issues and ideas that matter, such as national security and better job opportunities for people as well as education for our children. His ex-wife Jeri has said he's a good man and a loving father."

Phyllis Schlafly, one of the chief agitators for Clinton's impeachment, told the Sun-Times she still supports Ryan because the charges are unproven and were made during a custody fight. "Sure they're disturbing. They're unpleasant," said Schlafly. "But considering where they're coming from, I would wait for the proof before judging him."

Robert Novak, the conservative commentator, said on Crossfire, "The judge allowed joint custody of their now nine-year-old son to the two parents. Number two, it was Mrs. Ryan, not Jack Ryan, who was guilty of adultery. … Jack Ryan, unlike Bill Clinton, did not commit adultery and did not lie."

House Speaker Dennis Hastert "still has a Thursday fund-raising event for Ryan on his calendar," according to Wednesday's Sun-Times. Hastert's spokesman told reporters Hastert had no comment.

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Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill., who voted to find Clinton guilty on both articles of impeachment five years ago, said, "Divorce cases and child custody cases are by nature acrimonious, and allegations on all sides are often unreliable or sensationalized. The Jack Ryan that I know very well is a good and decent man. … I support him and continue to support him with enthusiasm and confidence."

Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News host, fretted about the politics of personal destruction. After O'Reilly's legal analyst pointed out that Ryan hadn't denied the story and "in a Clintonesque way, splits hairs" about it, O'Reilly complained, "Just think about it, any politician or somebody thinking about running for office, if they have an ex-wife who is mad at them or an ex-girlfriend, they are dead, they are toast, because you can make any accusation in the world. … It discourages everybody from getting into the arena."

Now we know why Bill Clinton got impeached. He was in the wrong club.